Child support is frequently and hotly contested in New Mexico divorce cases as well as other cases involving children and parents living separately. It is very important to understand the laws governing child support to insure that both you and your children are being treated fairly.
The Albuquerque Attorneys at Collins & Collins, P.C. have significant experience in New Mexico child support cases. Our firm assists clients with child support matters in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho. If you have a child support case in Albuquerque or Rio Rancho, we welcome your call or online contact.
In the meantime, we have provided a great deal of information on our website and the Child Custody section of our Divorce Law blog. Hopefully, this information will help you understand the law and the processes involved in New Mexico child support cases.
The Numbers are Important (Garbage In, Garbage Out!)
In most cases, the calculation of child support is a fairly straightforward mathematical calculation. This calculation cannot be disputed. It is the numbers that go into the calculation that can be disputed.
There are number of ways bad numbers can be put in with consequent bad output: 1) necessary numbers are omitted, 2) numbers are misstated, or 3) numbers are put in the calculation that are not allowed by law.
It is important to understand the calculation of child support. It is equally important to know what numbers are and are not allowed in the calculation. Likewise, it very important to make sure the other parent’s numbers are fairly and accurately stated.
Perhaps most importantly, it is critical that these numbers be clearly communicated to the judge or hearing officer if and when that time comes so that a fair determination of child support is made.
New Mexico Child Support Guidelines
Once you have the numbers at hand, child support is computed according the New Mexico Child Support Guidelines by way of the child support worksheets. The guidelines and the worksheet are strictly followed by the courts except in very limited situations.
The child support worksheets are available online at the New Mexico courts website. You can run your calculations there. Once you have completed the process, and assuming you have entered correct and complete financial figures, you will have a child support figure very close to what the Court will order.
Worksheet A or Worksheet B?
The first figure to be entered is the amount of time to be spent with each parent. If one parent has the child over 65% of the time, the court will use worksheet A to reflect primary physical custody with one of the parents. If not, the court will use Worksheet B which reflects a more equalized time-sharing between the parties.
What Numbers May be Included?
Once the time-sharing is determined, which may be hotly contested in the child custody dispute, you will enter several figures. Again, if these are clear, there is no basis for dispute.
However, it is important to make sure the figures provided by the other parent are accurate and complete. The child support calculation will include the following for both parents:
- Gross monthly income,
- Monthly medical, dental and eye insurance premiums,
- Monthly daycare expenses, and
- In rare cases, other extraordinary monthly expenses associated with the care of the child such as medical and dental expense.
Nothing else may be included in the calculation. This means, often to the dismay of one or the other parent, that the costs of private school, extracurricular activities, clothing, food, or other monthly expenses are not included.
Child Support Disputes Can Be Costly and Futile
Because child support is calculated by a statutorily defined formula and not subject to deviation, it is unwise to dispute support unless there are honest disputes over the figures to be entered into the worksheet.
Child support should not be disputed as a matter of principle. Nor should it be disputed if the numbers are clear. The attorney fees and costs will mount quickly and to no avail unless there are truly issues with the numbers.
Sometimes there can be honest disputes over these figures. However, even these should be worked out in advance of court or you may find that you have spent thousands of dollars on attorney’s fees for very minor gains on child support.
The child support worksheet is helpful because you can play with the numbers to determine if the dispute is really worth fighting. Though it may sound insensitive, think of this in strictly economic terms: Do the costs justify the gains?
That is really all that you should be asking. Keep your emotions out of it, and you will be much better served financially and emotionally over time.
An Experienced Attorney Can Help
An experienced child support attorney can help in a number of ways. First of all, the attorney should be able to tell you what to expect. The attorney will be able to help collect the necessary numbers with supporting documentation.
Most importantly, the attorney will be able to review both sets of numbers to determine whether a fight is worth pursuing. If the numbers are fair and accurate, then the attorney will know, tell you and move on the next issue.